Bayou Teche at Franklin Historic District
What's the Story?
Throughout the 1800s, the 125-mile Bayou Teche was the main transportation route through this region. Its banks eventually attracted settlers eager to capitalize on this strategic location and proximity to the coast. The city of Franklin was founded along the Teche in 1808 and became the seat of St. Mary Parish in 1811.
By 1819, the steamboat was an essential part of the area’s economic and social life. Unlike larger vessels, smaller steam craft could navigate the serpent-shaped waterway. At its peak, Franklin was the largest steamboat port on the bayou. Primary goods transported from Franklin were molasses, which was grown and refined on surrounding plantations, and sugar cane, which is still an important commodity.
Bayou Teche was the stage for much activity during the American Civil War. The Battle of Irish Bend took place April 14, 1863, in an area known as Nerson’s Woods just north of Franklin. Both Union and Confederate artifacts have been found during bayou dredging operations.
The bayou also directly influenced early English settlers. Most of Franklin Historic District’s more than 400 historic properties on the National Register of Historic Places are along or near the Teche. Franklin’s main street, LA Hwy. 182 (formerly LA Hwy. 90), runs parallel to the bayou, and both the street and the Teche pass through the town center.
Today, Bayou Teche connects Franklin with several bodies of water, including the Gulf of Mexico, Six Mile Lake, Attakapas Island Wildlife Management Area, Grand Lake and Lake Fausse Pointe. Industries such as oil and boat building are important locally and are supported by the Port of West St. Mary, which is located on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway just 14 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Though boat travel is no longer the most common mode of transport through the region, Bayou Teche and related waterways remain important to area residents for both commercial and recreational uses. The Teche has become popular with outdoor enthusiasts as the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail Corridor, part of the National Park Service’s National Water Trails System, and offers multiple access points for paddlers.
This site’s geology/geomorphology: Holocene crevasse splay deposits of Bayou Teche occupation of Mississippi River
Site GPS Coordinates: 29.792431, -91.499462
Closest Address: 700 Teche Drive, Franklin, LA
Driving Directions: From New Orleans, take I-10 W. Merge onto I-310 S via Exit 220 toward Boutte/Houma. Take the US-90 W exit toward Houma. Then exit LA-3215/Garden City/Franklin. Turn left onto Highway 90 Frontage Road. Turn right onto LA-3215. Turn left onto Highway 182/LA-182. Continue to follow LA-182. Turn right onto Wilson Street and follow until it becomes Teche Drive. /// From Baton Rouge/Lafayette, take I-10 W toward Lafayette. Take Exit 103 A, toward US-90/Morgan City. Merge onto NW Evangeline Thruway (becomes US-90 E). Take LA-3211 N exit toward Franklin. Keep left to take the ramp toward Franklin. Turn left onto Northwest Blvd/LA-3211. Turn right onto LA-182, then left onto Adams Street, then right onto Teche Drive.
Trail Site Information
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Parks & Refuges